It’s always funny to me that there are those among us who quantify themselves as blissfully ignorant. I cannot imagine not seeking after truth. The problem with me is an inherent cynicism that seems to blind me to what is directly in front of me.
A couple of months ago I was encouraged to read a certain book. I hemmed and hawed… Who has time for another book. Besides. I am reading my Bible. *insert holier-than-thou-thought-here*
So I thought about it… And I checked it out from the library. Twice. It’s now currently overdue. I contacted the author(s) and have corresponded with the one of them at some length. Nice guy. Someone I’d love to have over for dinner and discuss, well, anything but music I think. 🙂
As I began to seriously read the thoughts and perspectives put down on paper I was both encouraged and grieved. Encouraged to see that the hunger I have had for fellowship and real community in the Body isn’t just a pipe dream. It really does exist somewhere. This was closely followed by grief that we, as the Body, have compromised on so many levels and are denying our very destiny in lieu of a pseudo-faith that doesn’t remotely resemble the Life found in the Word.
Don’t argue with me. You know what I’m saying. Get beyond your innate prejudice and fear of the unusual and just bear with me.
After reading and pondering and considering and praying I thought of the phrase, “Come out from her” and it had a completely new gist.
But here’s my dilemma. I don’t want accidental fellowship. I hunger for intentional fellowship. I don’t want solitary accountability I need corporate and relational buffers and boundaries. But I really have not only no desire but an absolute aversion to doing so in the methods deemed “acceptable” by most believers.
You understand that I have sat in the big and small buildings wondering at the expediency of tithing to pay some guy in a suit (or polo shirt if you are Calvary Chapel) to tell me about the Word and excise me from the responsibility to do so for myself. I have sat in small group settings patiently waiting for the facilitator/study leader/video entity to dictate Truth to me in manageable bites.
And the end result?
I find it extremely difficult to function without someone telling me HOW to be a Follower of Christ. How common is this, I wonder?
There’s a fear mentality permeating the fabric of my faith. A fear that if I am “outside” the corporate, institutional and traditional gathering of believers I will cease to function as a True Believer.
But how can that be so? Is G-d too small to hold on to me? Is the Holy Spirit, the Ruach Ha’Kodesh, too weak to cover me? To teach me? To comfort me? To draw me? Is Y’shua’s strength and redemptive power not expansive enough for even me?
So who am I if I am not found in the ra-ra-shish-boom-ba section of *insert ministry name here* of So & So’s Great & Glamorous Jesus Movement?
The Mr. always reminds me that who I am, the identity I should seek to reflect is that of one seated with Christ in heavenly places. But that’s so FREAKING hard to remember when I am so much closer to the garbage heap of the world than the beauty of eternity. Yet again, this begs the question… Isn’t He big enough? For even me in my weakness?
I have never been a proponent of the Big Business Church. Makes me ill really. How much for electricity? Who got turned away for assistance because they didn’t meet some “criteria“? How many times did you say “Be blessed” when someone was cold and hungry in front of you? And then headed out for breakfast/dinner with all your cronies.
I’ve had a teensy taste of politicks lately. I mean TEENSY. But still. I was dumbfounded to realize 30+ years of church attendance left me amply suited to a life of a PAC lobbyist. Disturbing.
Back to my point.
I want this fellowship. This family that I see in the Word. G-d would not have left a testimony of love, faithfulness, and hope if it were not possible for us today. But I admit I’m pretty beat up and afraid of the whole relationship idea. I am at odds even with myself.
I’ll let you in on a secret. Tony was right. I don’t have very many friends. I don’t know that I’m very good friend material and it seems that I haven’t chosen very well. With two very significant exceptions. But that’s mostly because of who they are not because of me. That’s not the secret. The secret is that I truly, and I mean truly, cannot understand why anyone would want to invest in me. Don’t pull out the gloves and beat me up to show you care, don’t for the love of sweet potatoes, over-compensate and try to validate me. I have had too many people I trusted and cared about, people who stoutly declared their affection and affiliation, discard me like so much trash. Words mean very little. I am merely walking you through to my next point.
So you can understand that it is beyond my imagination to conceive of being part of a group of believers who actually exemplified the kind of love and fidelity Paul talks about in Corinthians. Or Philippians. Oh, I can imagine standing in the yard and looking in through the windows. But I can’t imagine being invited in. Not for myself. Because they actually wanted me. Maybe if they needed a cook or a clean up crew. Or a schmoozer to make them all feel better. Maybe then they’d invite me.
Maybe then. But they wouldn’t keep me. Not if I asked too many questions. Had too many ideas. Disagreed too many times. They wouldn’t really love me. Not if I were difficult to control or manage. Not if I didn’t fit their neat little paradigm of the Good and Godly Christian Woman.
Doesn’t make me want it any less. Belonging. I don’t know that I have ever belonged anywhere except with the Mr. He’s the only one ever who hasn’t treated me like I’m Too Much. Or Not Enough.
So I read this book and I envision this Body the author talks about with my heart in my throat. Then I find tears on my cheeks and a dull ache in my chest and the only sound I can manage is to whisper, “If only… Could it be? For me?”
I guess that remains to be seen.